Can compensation for injury to feelings be awarded under the Working Time Regulations 1998?
No, held the Court of Appeal in Gomes v Higher Level Care Limited.
The Appellant worked for a company providing accommodation and support services for vulnerable young people. She claimed compensation for failure to allow her rest breaks. Under reg 30 of the WTR, the amount of compensation is to be determined on a just and equitable basis but it does not expressly refer to injury to feelings.
The tribunal found the employer to be in breach of reg 12. At the remedies hearing, the parties agreed loss of earnings at £1,220, but disagreed about whether the tribunal had jurisdiction to make an additional compensatory award reflecting injury to feelings.
The tribunal found it had no such jurisdiction under the WTR, a decision upheld by the EAT and the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal considered the Claimant's complaint was akin to a breach of contract claim, for which the natural remedy was compensation for loss of earnings for the length of the breaks. In doing so, the Court of Appeal relied heavily on the House of Lords' judgment in Dunnachie v Kingston Upon Hull City Council, where their Lordships declined to allow awards for injury to feelings to be made in unfair dismissal claims.
Thanks to Jason Braier of Field Court Chambers for preparing this case summary.